Legislative day 22 was active amongst the education associations as we huddled up on HB 301 (voucher bill).  The message is clear that this bill will cost the local system in QBE allotment money as we shared with you.  There are other issues such as requiring a public school system to submit quarterly reports on behalf of the parents/students utilizing the vouchers. Another, the random audit suggestion in the bill does not support transparency.  There should be a regularly scheduled audit. There is a call for a parent review committee to review voucher appeals that have been denied previously.    Please begin to reach out to your representatives and voice your opposition to HB 301.  No earned public school money should be used for private/school purposes.  Just not a good practice especially with little accountability and transparency. Refer to cost analysis sent to you earlier.

HB 109 The TRS bill LC431270S passed out of the retirement committee by a 3-2 vote.  The third vote came walking in at the end of the meeting when a call to vote was requested.  You need to begin to contact your legislators and express your thoughts on this bill.  It keeps TRS as a defined benefit.  Which is a very good thing. But it does change and place restrictions on when an individual can collect his/her retirement.  More than likely, you will have to go beyond the thirty years  of credible service if you join TRS on or after July 1, 2019.  The author of the bill Rep. Tommy Benton (retired teacher) took issue with TRS being used as a recruitment tool may not a factor. I would have a different opinion based on recruiting teachers and leaders into our profession fairly recently.  It is a great tool when explained to young teachers entering the profession.  Having a lifetime benefit while starting on the lower end of the salary scale considering the current market salaries in other professions are generally higher is something of a big benefit. Rep. Benton did concede in his remarks that it was an effective retention tool.  It is our last best benefit we can offer teachers.

The FY20 budget was discussed early this morning in the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.  The raise for state earned certificated personnel will be $2775 in this budget proposal.  That should give you a starting point now to begin to crunch some numbers and measure the local impact.  Although, as you know the budget could see some additional adjustments.

HB 316 known as the election machines/ballot bill passed the house floor to update state voting machines which will produce a paper ballot to be recorded.  It was debated on the House Floor for one hour.  It will move to the Senate for debate and vetting.

Many of you have contacted me with your thoughts and questions on certain pieces of legislation.  Right now our focus is on HB 301.  It is a negative bill for public education in Georgia. If you have a desire or passion to take a deeper dive into voucher programing and whether it is a success or not -click on the above coalition link.

Tomorrow is Legislative Day 23.  Begins at 10am.

Crossover day is March 7, 2019.

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